BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea Episode One
Rapture is quite possibly the most iconic location of this console generation. When we first descended into Rapture from that lonely light house we were confronted by a fallen paradise, dilapidated neon and blood-soaked art-deco facades haunt your every waking minute in Rapture showing echoes of what once was a shining pearl at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
This is, at least in part, what makes the Burial at Sea downloadable content for BioShock Infinite so compelling. Getting the chance to revisit Rapture, not in its ruined state like in BioShock, but as it was before the fall; to see it with the shine still on it is too good to pass up.
Burial At Sea Episode One begins in the office of Booker DeWitt, private investigator in Rapture as he gets a visit from a film noire incarnation of Elizabeth who hires him to locate a girl called Sally who has disappeared in the city.
As with the beginning of BioShock Infinite, Burial At Sea Episode One gives players the chance to explore a living vibrant Rapture that hints at the disaster to come drawing DeWitt and Elizabeth to the city's crazed, spliced-up artist Sander Cohen before beginning the search proper.
The investigation takes the duo to the Fontaine's sunken department store, dropped as a prison for Fontaine's followers by Andrew Ryan after a failed insurrection.
This is a more familiar place. A leaky ruin and a portent of what Rapture will become filled with splicers addicted to Plasmids and Eve.
It is all very familiar but different in the ways hinted at by the ending of BioShock Infinite's main story. Rapture is beautiful, re-imagined full from the ground up using the version of the Unreal Engine 3 used to build the main game.
There's a few little nifty additions. The Old Man Winter ice-based Plasmid is crucial to the narrative drift of the story as it allows passage through Fontaine's ruined store to find the girl. There's also a couple of new weapons in the form of BioShock's Tommy Gun and the microwave-powered Radar Range weapon that dispatches splicers explosively in a red mist.
Level design is quite interesting offering a variety of tears in the larger set-piece areas offering some useful tactical options with familiar artefacts from Columbia. There's even in appearance of the Skylines renamed and Pneumo-Lines in keeping with the rest of the storyline.
The pace of Burial At Sea Episode One is quite slow but it offers players the chance to really explore the environments that Irrational Games has created for the expansion. This is quite a key design feature for the studio as they produced so much in BioShock Infinite that could only really be experienced by stopping to smell the roses.
Burial At Sea Episode One manages to carry on the deeply existential questions that the story of BioShock Infinite asks all the way through and the cliff-hanger ending carries enough weight to bring fans back for the concluding part.
It's a short expansion – around six or seven hours long – and it's fairly slow-paced at that. Still it adds adds an intriguing side story to the main thrust of BioShock Infinite and is an exquisite return to Rapture. It's just a shame that we have to wait for Episode Two to be released to find how Booker and Elizabeth's time in Rapture ends...